have fallen in love with the anonymously authored book
Way of a Pilgrim
account of an ordinary man's encounter with the Eastern Orthodox Christian

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On the Prayer of Jesus

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have fallen in love with the anonymously authored book
Way of a Pilgrim
account of an ordinary man's encounter with the Eastern Orthodox Christian
practice of the Jesus Prayer, which consists of the constant repetition of the
short phrase, "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy upon me." Here is the
perfect introduction to this life-changing practice, as it was taught by one of
the great spiritual lights of Russia. Bishop Ignatius Brianchaniov
(1807–1867) provides wise instruction and advice covering all aspects of
the practice, from how to get started, to approaching difficulties that arise,
to dealing with friends and family who don't get what you're doing, to making
this prayer (also called the Prayer of the Heart) the foundation of your life.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834828278
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/19/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 540,334
  • File size: 466 KB

Meet the Author

Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867) was a prominent spiritual writer in nineteenth-century Russia. On the Prayer of Jesus is taken from his several-volume Ascetical Works, as is his other famous work, The Arena.

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Read an Excerpt

From the Foreword

"Lord, teach us to pray."
Prayer is our true life, our highest path. Without prayer we are not genuinely human. We have been created to pray, just as we have been created to speak or to think. Yet how are we to pray? We can all of us commence with exterior prayer, with words of prayer recited from memory or repeated from books. But how are we to advance from this to living inner prayer? "Pray without ceasing," says St. Paul (1 Thess. 5:17). How shall we make prayer not just one activity among others but the activity of our entire life, a dimension present in everything that we undertake? How can prayer become part of our very self, not merely something that we do but something that we are? "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1). Where do we begin, how do we embark on the journey inward?

To questions such as these St. Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867) offers in the present work an answer that may at first seem oversimplified but that is in fact profound and far-reaching. Begin the journey, he tells us, by practicing the Jesus Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Use this short invocation at home, he says, during your set periods of daily prayer. Use it in church at appropriate moments in the services. Use it also in a "free" manner, once or many times, throughout the day as you go about your customary tasks. It is a prayer for all seasons, a prayer that can be said by anyone, in any place and at any time. Yet, despite its straightforward character, it is a prayer that leads also to the deepest mysteries of contemplation and creative silence. As St. Ignatius Brianchaninov puts it, "Such is the property of the Prayer of Jesus—it leads its practicer from earth to heaven, and places him among the celestial inhabitants." Calling it "the royal way" and "the narrow way," he states: "Do not think of it as a human institution; it is a divine institution."

The Jesus Prayer is particularly associated with the monastic life. During the rite of monastic profession, the future monk or nun is given a rosary or prayer-robe, to be used when invoking the Holy Name, and in this way the Jesus Prayer may be seen as part of the monastic vows. At the same time, Ignatius is careful to insist that the Jesus Prayer is suitable for "all the people of God without exception . . . whether monks or laypeople." He does not claim, however, "It is the only way," for he believes that there are many different paths of prayer which lead to salvation, and in this connection he quotes Christ's words, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places" (John 14:2). Yet he would, I think, have said, "It is the best way." Certainly he says (to paraphrase the whole argument of the present book), "It is an ancient way, commended in the Bible and the Fathers. It has helped many; it has helped me; it may also help you."

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Table of Contents

Foreword vii
Translator's Preface xxxv

1. On the Prayer of Jesus 1
2. Open to All 11
3. Power to Expel Demons 19
4. Greek and Russian Guides 31
5. Preparation for the Art of Arts 41
6. The Safe Way for Beginners 47
7. Teaching of St. Barsanuphius, Dorotheus the Russian, and St. Seraphim 53
8. The Method of St. John Climacus 61
9. Higher Levels of Prayer 71
10. Teaching of St. Nil Sorsky 77
11. St. Gregory the Sinaite 81
12. St. Nicephorus of Mount Athos 89
13. SS. Killistus and Ignatius Xanthopoulos 95
14. Material Aids 103
15. The Danger of Delusion 113
16. Human Opposition 121
17. Prayer and Life 131

Notes 141
Glossary of Names and Terms 151
Additional Resources on the Jesus Prayer 159
Index 161

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